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Greg Mitchell's WikiLeaks Blogging Day 32, Wed, Dec. 29

Big news so far is Floyd Abrams, Mr. Free Speech attorney, saying not all leaks are equal and WikiLeaks are bad leaks.

9:00 Veteran media rights lawyers Floyd Abrams in WSJ: "Why WikiLeaks Is Unlike the Pentagon Papers." This is a shocking op-ed, only considering the source. Abrams has long been hired by top media outlets, including The New York Times, for top court cases (including the Judy Miller one) and he is known as one of the legendary First Amendment lawyers. So to see him here in such an all-out attack on the idea, and the worth of the leaks, is starllng -- since they have been published in full partnership with the type of media companies (or even a speicfic one) Abrams represents. Obviously, those media outlets see the right to publish the leaks, and recognize their value. Think NYT will hire Abrams if they are brought to court on publishing these cables?

Really, Floyd?

10:45 Emptywheel at FDL responds to Floyd Abrams op-ed (see my take below).

And, there's that 1917 Espionage Act:

10:55 You don't see this headline every day: "My Parents Were Executed Under the Unconstitutional Espionage Act -- Here's Why We Must Fight to Protect Julian Assange." Piece, of course, written by Robert Meeropol, son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.'s_why_we_must_fight_to_protect_julian_assange

For other links, click to Mitchell's blog.


Submitted by jawbone on

in Texas. Appears the Feds are going to crack down heavily on actions against FOG's (friends of the government).

The kind of information Assange is providing to Al Jazeera may cause our government to redouble efforts to nail him. There's oil in them thar countries.... Tough to hide from the US when wearing a UK tracking device.

10:30 Assange tells Al Jazeera about Arab officials who spy for CIA, shows files.

Gee, whodathunkit? Arab officials working closely with the CIA?

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

and unlikely to cause him much loss of business. Basically, he's distinguishing what WL has done from what the "real" "journalists" of the NYT et al do. He's setting up to answer the legal question how it is the government could go after Assange for leaking documents without running afoul of the same 1st Amendment considerations that prevents them going after his clients.

It serves multiple purposes: partly reassurance to prospective clients (don't worry guys, I gotcha), a guideline for his clients to follow until the matter is settled one way or another (just wrap the leaks up in a lot of analysis and context), a proposed distinction for the courts to follow, and a reminder to the government how well-behaved his clients are (yes we'll push the 1st Amendment but don't worry, not too far, we really have your best interests at heart, after all).

The Pentagon Papers revelations dealt with a discrete topic, the ever-increasing level of duplicity of our leaders over a score of years in increasing the nation's involvement in Vietnam while denying it. It revealed official wrongdoing or, at the least, a pervasive lack of candor by the government to its people.

WikiLeaks is different. It revels in the revelation of "secrets" simply because they are secret. It assaults the very notion of diplomacy that is not presented live on C-Span. It has sometimes served the public by its revelations but it also offers, at considerable potential price, a vast amount of material that discloses no abuses of power at all.


But WikiLeaks offers no articles of its own, no context of any of the materials it discloses, and no analysis of them other than assertions in press releases or their equivalent. As Princeton historian Sean Wilentz told the Associated Press earlier this month, WikiLeaks seems rooted in a "simpleminded idea of secrecy and transparency," one that is "simply offended by any actions that are cloaked."

In reality, the distinction Floyd pushes is vanishing at a rapid rate. The value-added for the government is increasing, it's true, but enabling Izvestia and Pravda to support the empire isn't an argument grounded in the 1st Amend. The value-added which does implicate the 1st Amend would be the difficulty of protecting political speech (opinion, context and analysis) without revealing contents of secret documents. But that's the part of journalism that's leaching away.

What's a bit interesting about it is some of the language, about articles, analysis and context calls to mind the language of the fair use exception in copyright law.

Submitted by jawbone on

control) behind Swedish legal moves.

Is Karl Rove helping to export American-style political prosecutions to Scandinavia? Is "Bush's brain" trying to fashion a bogus criminal case in Sweden against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, much like the one he helped build against former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman?

Submitted by lambert on

... is a political appointee, hence amenable to whatever Reinfeldt might ask, but this seems pretty circumstantial. For one thing, Ly's resume looks a lot better than that of a loyal Bushie. Nothing's impossible, but...